EPA Rejects Petitions to Reverse Climate Change Endangerment Finding

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EPA Rejects Petitions to Reverse Climate Change Endangerment Finding


Smoke stacks are seen at a coal power plant in West Virginia. The EPA turned back 10 petitions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Peabody Coal and others that asked the agency to rescind its scientific finding that heat-trapping greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. (AFP/File/Saul Loeb)

WASHINGTON, DC - The Environmental
Protection Agency today turned back 10 petitions from the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Peabody Coal and others that
asked the agency to rescind its scientific finding that heat-trapping
greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.

In December 2009 the EPA determined that climate change is real, is
occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities,
and threatens human health and the environment. This determination
triggers the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under
the Clean Air Act.

The petitions to reconsider EPA's Endangerment Finding claim that
climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that
invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global
Change Research Program.

"After months of serious consideration of the petitions and of the state
of climate change science," the agency said today that it can find "no
evidence" to support these claims.

By contrast, EPA's review shows that "climate science is credible, compelling, and growing stronger."

"The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and
around the world. These petitions, based as they are on selectively
edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy, provide no
evidence to undermine our determination. Excess greenhouse gases are a
threat to our health and welfare," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

The scientific evidence supporting EPA's finding is "robust, voluminous, and compelling," the agency asserts on its website.

"Climate change is happening now, and humans are contributing to it,"
the EPA states. "Multiple lines of evidence show a global warming trend
over the past 100 years. Beyond this, melting ice in the Arctic, melting
glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea
levels, altered precipitation patterns, and shifting patterns of
ecosystems and wildlife habitats all confirm that our climate is

But Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber
Litigation Center, today said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce intends to
appeal the EPA's denial of its petition.

"The U.S. Chamber, policymakers, numerous trade groups, state
governments, and businesses throughout the country have collectively
raised strong concerns about the significant negative impact EPA's
endangerment finding will have on jobs and local economies," said

"We are deeply disappointed with the EPA's failure to reconsider its
flawed decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. We
intend to appeal the ruling."

"Defenders of the status quo will try to slow our efforts to get America
running on clean energy. A better solution would be to join the vast
majority of the American people who want to see more green jobs, more
clean energy innovation and an end to the oil addiction that pollutes
our planet and jeopardizes our national security," Jackson said.

The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists says the EPA made the right decision based on science.

"The EPA's decision to reject these claims is backed by decades of
research and on-the-ground observations, including from more than 7,000
weather stations that take air temperatures around the world," said UCS
President Kevin Knobloch. "Pronounced warming has occurred over the last
30 years, and the last decade has been the hottest in 130 years of

"Anyone who sweltered through the recent heat waves can attest to the
fact that extreme temperatures are a threat to human health," Knobloch
said. "If we don't swiftly and deeply reduce our emissions, heat waves
are likely to occur more often and be more severe, eventually making
these temperatures commonplace in summer."

"Heat waves already have led to an increase in heat-related deaths and
sicknesses, especially among the poor, children and the elderly, and
this trend is likely to get worse," he warned.

The petitioners say that emails disclosed from the University of East
Anglia's Climatic Research Unit provide evidence of a conspiracy to
manipulate global temperature data.

The EPA responds that its review of every one of these emails found
"this was simply a candid discussion of scientists working through
issues that arise in compiling and presenting large complex data sets."
Four other independent reviews came to similar conclusions.

The petitioners say that errors in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report,
issued in 2007, call the entire body of work into question.

The EPA reponds that of the alleged errors, EPA confirmed only two in a
3,000 page report. The first pertains to the rate of Himalayan glacier
melt and second to the percentage of the Netherlands below sea level.
IPCC issued correction statements for both of these errors.

The errors have no bearing on Administrator Jackson's endangerment
decision. None of the errors undermines the basic facts that the climate
is changing in ways that threaten our health and welfare.

The petitioners say that because certain studies were not included in
the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC itself is biased and cannot
be trusted as a source of reliable information.

The EPA responds that these claims are "incorrect." In fact, the agency
says, "the studies in question were included in the IPCC report, which
provided a comprehensive and balanced discussion of climate science."

Finally, the petitioners say that new scientific studies refute evidence supporting the Endangerment Finding.

But the EPA responds that the petitioners "misinterpreted" the results
of these studies. Contrary to their claims, many of the papers they
submit as evidence are consistent with EPA's endangerment finding.

"Other studies submitted by the petitioners were based on unsound
methodologies," the agency says. Detailed discussion of these issues are
found in Volume One of the response to petition documents, on EPA's
website at: http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/petitions.html.

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